The Falcons are the only undefeated team in the NFL at this point in the season (6-0), but they did show some vulnerability in their last game before edging out the Oakland Raiders 23-20 with a last-second, 55-yard bomb of a field goal by Falcons’ K Matt Bryant.
One of the most worrisome statistics in this game for the Falcons was that QB Matt Ryan threw 3 interceptions in the first half, matching his total over the first five weeks of the season.
These throwing woes come at a bad time for Ryan, being that he faces Eagles’ CB Nnamdi Asomugha and CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie this week, arguably the best duo of pass defenders in the league. The Eagles’ secondary has not shined as much as expected to date, but any quarterback facing this unit really can not make any mistakes.
Luckily for Ryan, he has two beasts split out wide for him in WR Roddy White and WR Julio Jones, who can easily bail out any quarterback with their exceptional size and superior ball skills. I will have my eyes glued to the match-up between these two and the Asomugha/Rodgers-Cromartie pair all game.
The Eagles sit in the middle of the pack when it comes to rushing defense, so you can expect Falcons’ RB Michael Turner to have a productive, but not dominant day. I predict about 70 yards on the ground with a single end-zone plunge.
When it comes to the Eagles’ offense, QB Michael Vick will once again be facing his former suitors in the Falcons, with whom Vick began his career and originally dropped jaws.
I see Vick coming out on Sunday with a chip on his shoulder, looking to show the Falcons just how well he is still capable of performing, and how he hasn’t lost the passion for the game he loves. It is always exciting seeing a player tee-off against his former squad, especially with the turmoil between Vick and the Falcons, ranging from their financial discrepancies to their personal vendettas.
When it come to the Eagles’ wide receiving corps, WR DeSean Jackson has yet to reach the level of play that he is capable of this season, but I am just waiting for his break-out game. And I strongly believe that Sunday will be the day he goes off.
Even though Jackson will be opposite ex-teammate CB Asante Samuel for some of the game, I see WR Jeremy Maclin being the primary target of Samuel and the Falcons’ secondary.
Jackson has quietly had a productive season so far this year, averaging just under 5 catches for 77.5 yards per game. The only problem is, he has only reached the end-zone one time.
But in reality, he has been more of a solid game-in and game-out player this year, instead of blowing up one week and then falling off the next, like in recent seasons.
I also think that the Falcons’ 12th ranked passing defense is overrated, considering they haven’t faced more than one decent receiver on any team they have played.
So look for Jackson to get on track Sunday and go for 100+ receiving yards and at least one touchdown.
The Falcons must also be mindful of Eagles’ RB LeSean McCoy. Yes, he has struggled in his past few games, but the Falcons’ run defense is giving up a ghastly 143.8 rushing yards per game, which is 28th in the NFL.
McCoy has the ability and the skill set to make any defense his personal playground, especially against a defense with numbers this bad.
This game should certainly be a high-scoring affair, which will feature multiple lead changes. And even though I see Vick putting on a remarkable performance, I don’t think it will be enough to tame Ryan and his undefeated Falcons.
When the final whistle blows on Sunday, the Falcons will have edged out the Eagles with a score of 34-26.
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